KMT's Ma, self-determination

The sudden decision by Kuomintang presidential candidate to declare his adherence to the fundamental democratic principle that "Taiwan's future must be decided by the Taiwan people alone" lacks both substance and credibility.
On the third anniversary of the enactment of the controversial "Anti-Secession Law" by the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China, Ma announced the switch in half-page advertisements in major vernacular newspapers headlined "We Resolutely Advocate That the Future of Taiwan Must be Decided by the Taiwan People Themselves" which declared that the Taiwan people would have the final say about their future and development.
Ma expressed strong opposition to the PRC "law," which grants Beijing the right to use "non-peaceful measures" against Taiwan if "peaceful unification" proves impossible, reiterated that, not Taiwan, but "the Republic of China is a sovereign and independent country," stated that he would promote "policies of peace and prosperity" across the Taiwan Strait and refloated his "three noes" position, namely, "no unification, no formal independence and no use of force."
Ma's stance would seem to be dramatic shift from his own previous positions and from the current call for "eventual unification" in the program of his own "Chinese Nationalist Party," which has been infamous for its hidebound attachment to "great Chinese nationalism" and resistance to "Taiwanization" as well as "democratization."
After all, Ma himself reaffirmed his commitment to eventual unification in a December 19, 2005 interview with "Newsweek" and told Hong Kong's Singtao Daily News on February 12, 2006 that "the Taiwan question should be decided together by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait."
Ma's own party has persistently and intensify supported a "China-centric" identity and has firmly opposed any and all advocations of Taiwan self-determination or that "the future of Taiwan should be decided by the Taiwan people themselves."
In contrast, this principle is the core value of the decades-long Taiwan democratic movement against the former (and perhaps future) KMT autocracy and the Democratic Progressive Party since its birth in September 1986.
In particular, the landmark May 1999 "Resolution on the Future of Taiwan" especially posited that Taiwan is an independent and sovereign state and declared that "any proposed changes in Taiwan's independent status must be decided upon by the 23 million people of Taiwan through national citizen referendum."
No referendum, no value
Here, at last, is the rub.
In contrast to the DPP's crystal clear and consistent advocacy that the 23 million Taiwan people have the right to exercise their right of self-determination through plebiscite, Ma made no mention of the method by which the people of Taiwan will be able to make their decisions on "Taiwan's future and development."
Such an omission is hardly surprising since Ma's own party is deeply hostile to the concept of national citizen referendums, as reflected by its reluctant passage of a birdcage Referendum Law in November 2003, its boycott of all referendums so far held in Taiwan and innumerable anti-democratic declarations by KMT leaders, such as KMT Legislator Chiang Hsiao-yen, that "referendums have nothing to do with democracy."
Just last Wednesday, Ma himself was unable to persuade his own party's Central Standing Committee to support the referendum calling for an application for "readmission" into the United Nations under the ROC or other "pragmatic and dignified name" even though that initiative was sponsored by his own vice presidential running mate, former KMT premier Vincent Siew.
In this light, Ma's formal advocacy of this concept has little value.
By refusing to commit to allowing the people of Taiwan to decide their future "themselves" through direct democracy, we are left to wonder whether the KMT candidate believes that such momentous decisions are "delegated" by the mechanisms of indirect democracy, namely parliamentary or presidential elections.
If so, Ma's advocacy falls far short of its advertised character and should be rewritten to read that "We Strongly Advocate Our Right to Decide Taiwan's Future on Behalf of the Taiwan People," a position which is, at least, consistent with the KMT's political culture.
Moreover, Ma's opposition to opposition to both "unification" and "independence" leave us in the dark as to what he would actually allow the Taiwan people to "decide by themselves."
Indeed, Ma only last week openly negated the right of the Taiwan people to "decide themselves" a major question that could determine the future and future development of Taiwan when he declared after the only genuine presidential campaign debate March 9 that he did not intend to allow our citizens a chance to vote in a referendum on whether to form a "cross-strait common market" with the PRC.
In sum, Ma's apparent "switch" is little more than an attempt at piracy of the DPP's decades-long core value of democratic self-determination for the 23 million Taiwan people.
Just as in the cases of other counterfeit products, the Taiwan people would be better off with the genuine article.